No, not Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 classic film, this Last Picture Show is a track on the newly released album Diabolique by L’Épée, a band comprising Emmaunelle Seigner (Ultra Orange), Anton Newcombe (The Brian Jonestown Massacre) and Lionel & Marie Limiñana (The Limiñanas).

If you were putting together names beforehand for a band that could make uber-cool droney hypnotic pop and somehow make it all sound effortless, then those four names are the kind that might very possibly have sprung to mind.

Together, according to the Guardian‘s Paul Moody, they’re ‘as seductive as Serge Gainsbourg and as druggily alluring as the Velvet Underground’.

Their album’s title may allude to Mario Bava’s 1968 action movie Diabolik, but I have no idea why this track is called The Last Picture Show, deciphering lyrics not being a strongpoint for this tinnitus sufferer.

If anybody’s wondering about that atmospheric looking old black and white movie featured throughout the promo, you’ve come to the right place. These clips are taken from The City of the Dead, a gothic thriller that inspired the name of the B-side of The Clash’s 1977 single Complete Control.

The City of the Dead (1960)

Scenes from the film were also utilised in Iron Maiden’s Bring Your Daughter… to the Slaughter video, while he Misfits wrote a song about it called Horror Hotel, this being the name forced on the film by its American distributor for a time. One of the most stupid re-titlings I can think of, albeit you could argue that the film’s setting of Whitewood, Massachusetts, couldn’t really be described as a city.

There’s also a music connection in the actual film. 1957’s top male vocalist as voted by Melody Maker readers appears in a leading role.

That’ll be Dennis Lotis, and no, I have never heard him singing either.

Also starring Venetia Stevenson and Christopher Lee, I’d always assumed this was an American movie but Lee put me right on his commentary on the Arrow blu-ray. It was completely shot in England with mostly British actors. Lee, incidentally, is predictably impressive here as Professor Driscoll, albeit he is absent for a large chunk of proceedings but as he says: ‘There are no small parts. Only small actors.’

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Shot in a silvery black and white, The City of the Dead opens as a witch is being burned at the stake in New England – although that’s not how they were executed in reality in that part of the world. As the pyre’s flames draw ever nearer, Elizabeth Selwyn spits at the jeering onlookers and places a curse on the town and its inhabitants.

Fast forward to a university lecture where Driscoll recounts the details of the witch’s death to a class that includes super keen student, Nan Barlow (Venetia Stevenson). Before long, she is persuaded to visit Whitewood, the village where Selwyn was burned, to research the subject.

There she meets the proprietor of the Raven’s Inn, Mrs. Newless – who looks suspiciously like a prim and proper modern version of Elizabeth Selwyn. And try saying that surname backwards.

City of the Dead still

The plot resembles that of Psycho in a number of respects, although I’ll spare you from any spoilers. I will mention, though, that shooting started on City of the Dead around six weeks before Hitchcock began work on his chiller. Had the team behind it read Robert Bloch’s novel? Nobody seems to know, but the original treatment for the English film had been penned before Psycho had even been published in America. I’m guessing any similarities were a coincidence.

The City of the Dead has also been compared to another film released in 1960, Mario Bava’s Black Sunday. Yes, that man Bava again. It’s not really in the same league as either Psycho or Black Sunday, but it still makes for a very entertaining watch.

Yes, some of the plot doesn’t quite make sense, though it stands up to far greater scrutiny in that respect than this year’s most successful horror, Us, a film that requires far higher levels of suspension of disbelief than I could muster up.

Despite being made on a budget of £45,000, City of the Dead looks fantastic with cinematographer Desmond Dickinson perfectly evoking the atmosphere of a creepy fog-shrouded village with a very dark secret. Most of the performances are convincing too – although hopefully Lotis was a better singer than an actor – and, even sixty years after it was shot, the film still manages to consistently unsettle.

If you want to hear The Clash song, click here.